The retirement of heavyweight champion Randy Couture, which is now casting a long shadow on UFC, was precipitated by UFC's failure to sign Fedor Emelianenko, the one heavyweight every fan wanted to see Couture fight, and the one heavyweight who would be guaranteed to generate significant pay-per-view buys if he stepped into the Octagon with Couture.
So how did Emelianenko, the biggest fish in mixed martial arts, get away from UFC? Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports writes:
Have no doubt that Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks' owner, would-be Chicago Cubs owner and the fledgling MMA promoter, is somehow involved in the M-1 Mix Fight promotion that allegedly signed Emelianenko to a multi-million dollar contract last week. Cuban declined comment via e-mail when asked whether he is part of M-1.From a business standpoint, it wouldn't make much sense for Cuban to spend a lot of money on signing Emelianenko unless he also felt confident he could put together a fight with a big-name opponent -- watching Emelianenko beat up on a tomato can would get old soon.
So Cuban may be whispering in Couture's ear, telling him to wait out the remaining nine months of his UFC contract, and then make a deal with M-1. The problem, though, is that UFC president Dana White says the contract doesn't just have nine more months on it, it also has two more fights on it. That disagreement on the terms of the contract means Couture's next fight is likely to be in court, against UFC.